The Ebola virus epidemic has become a financial boon for some companies that manufacture the equipment needed to protect health care workers from contracting the disease. The World Health Organization recently said it will cost nearly $1 billion to end the ongoing outbreak, and that infusion of money into the health sector has not gone unnoticed by investors.
Companies such as hazmat suit maker Lakeland Industries Inc. are seeing surges in their share prices. Hazmat suits -- also known as personal protective equipment in the medical profession -- are an essential, indispensable piece of gear for front-line Ebola fighters, a fact that is reflected by the 274 percent year-to-date surge in Lakeland's stock, according to USA Today.
Alpha Pro Tech Ltd., a leading producer of face masks and other protective face wear, is also seeing financial benefit from the international health scourge. Its stock is up 245 percent so far this year, according to USA Today.
The gains have intensified along with the Ebola outbreak. Lakeland's shares jumped 47 percent on Monday, and Alpha Pro Tech's shares saw an increase of 33 percent, according to Business Insider. That strong performance caps off a stratospheric recent history, as shares of their stocks each rose more than 180 percent in the past month, Business Insider reported.
Other companies such as 3M Company and Dupont E. I. De Nemours & Co., commonly known as DuPont, also produce hazmat suits, goggles and other protective gear, but the vastness of their operations has kept their stock prices more subdued despite the firms selling and donating protective equipment in bulk to aid in the fight against Ebola.
World Health Organization Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward said Tuesday that by December there could be up to 10,000 Ebola cases per week in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the epicenter of the outbreak that began in March. Aylward said WHO is focusing on isolating Ebola cases and treating patients with professional medical care. Meanwhile, the United Nations said Tuesday that its $1 billion Ebola fund aimed at slowing down the outbreak remains less than 25 percent funded.